UUP peer Lord Empey has taken steps which would break what he sees as the current “stalemate” at Stormont and allow for the introduction of an opposition.
The former UUP leader has tabled an amendment to the Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill which would enable the Secretary of State to introduce opposition rights to the Assembly.
“Ulster Unionists have long sought to see a provision for an opposition at Stormont as part of our journey to political normality,” he said. “With the present stalemate at Stormont, we think this is the right time to move forward with a positive contribution to strengthen our democracy.
“This proposal has no effect on any party’s rights; rather it will provide greater opportunities for MLAs to hold the Executive to account. If a party does not wish to be in the Executive but also decides not to be an opposition party then that is up to them.”
The matter should be in primary legislation, he said, to ensure that the opposition would be protected from Executive parties if they did not like what an opposition was doing.